Former CIA Director Outlines Russian Playbook for Influencing Unsuspecting Targets
- Author: Leroy Wright May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 6:11
Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that Russia "brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process", despite US efforts to warn it off. Brennan testified in an open session of the committee, one of a handful of congressional committees now investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Brennan added, however, that he did not know whether any collusion existed as a result of those contacts.
He also says that before sharing such classified intelligence with foreign partners, the USA would go back to the intelligence partner that provided the information to make sure what was shared would not compromise operatives.
The former intelligence chief hinted that the Russians may have obtained additional information through hacking that they did not release prior to the election.
He said the intelligence "raised questions in my mind whether the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals". FBI and congressional investigations are looking into the alleged Russian meddling.
In response to Brennan and Coats' testimony, the White House said: "This morning's hearings back up what we've been saying all along: that despite a year of investigation, there is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion".
Brennan said Russia was motivated to back Donald Trump in the presidential election because of a "traditional animus" between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Brennan stated he saw interactions between Russians and Trump campaigners that justified an investigation but did not sufficiently prove "colluding".
Reps. Trey Gowdy of SC and Tom Rooney of Florida were the most aggressive Republican questioners, and they solicited some of Brennan's most detailed responses.
The former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, previously told Congress that the Justice Department was concerned that Flynn was compromised by the Russians and could be vulnerable to blackmail as Trump's national security adviser because of misleading statements he made to the vice president about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Trump in February fired Flynn over the misleading statements, but he has since defended Flynn and his integrity. Rooney asked at one point.
But Brennan told the House intelligence committee on Tuesday that President Donald Trump would have violated protocol if he shared such information with Russian officials in the Oval Office spontaneously. I don't know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not USA persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.
Brennan's testimony was the first public confirmation of the worry at high levels of the US government previous year over suspicious contacts between Trump campaign associates and Moscow.
The Justice Department says Robert Mueller's work at a law firm that represented relatives and associates of President Donald Trump does not disqualify him from overseeing an FBI investigation into possible ties between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian Federation. The FBI is also conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
In a section about Ukraine, Coats also said he expected Russian meddling to continue by the undermining of "Ukraine's fragile economic system and divided political situation to create opportunities to rebuild and consolidate Russian influence in Ukrainian decisionmaking". "It's shared through intelligence channels, because it needs to be handled the right way and it needs to make sure it is not exposed".
During the meeting, the president reportedly shared with the Russians intelligence information about ISIS that came from Israel.
In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen.
And since the last hearing Trump fired Comey, the Department of Justice appointed a special counsel to oversee the FBI's Russia investigation and it was revealed the president allegedly tried to halt the FBI's investigation into his former national security adviser, who was sacked over conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.